For the past six years, Arsenal in the Community have partnered with North London United to provide children and young adults with Down syndrome the opportunity to play football.
As well as providing a weekly football fix, the engaging sessions aim to develop the participants’ skills and technique as well as increase their social network and encourage a physical and healthy lifestyle.
“It has been a fantastic journey supporting the group,” commented Arsenal in the Community disability officer Luke Howard, who runs the sessions.
“The partnership with North London United has enabled us to support a brilliant group of young people as they grow. We’ve maintained strong relationships with the players and their families through some big life changes, which has been a great privilege. Hopefully the group’s continued dedication to the sessions shows that they value us too!
“Every opportunity we’ve had to introduce the players to people around the club has seen instant friendships made, whether that be with coaches, staff or even the first team. This is testament to the brilliant group of young people we support and will continue to support for a long time.”
While the main function of the partnership is to provide the popular regular session at The Arsenal Hub, the truth is that it has evolved into much more than just one hour on a Monday evening.
“Working with Arsenal has allowed us to provide the group with so many wonderful experiences,” explained North London United coach Harold Bennett.
“From stadium tours, pitch-side presentations and playing in national tournaments to receiving match tickets - including an away trip to Manchester United - I am very grateful, not just as a coach, but as a parent whose child has Down syndrome and attends the sessions.
“I have seen first hand the changes and benefits, not just from the children who attend, but also from the parents and siblings. I hope this partnership can continue to benefit the local community and raise awareness around Down syndrome for many years to come.”
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